Working to Drop the Rock

New York City

Not to diminish the accomplishments of the Working Families Party [“Noted: Row E for Obama,” Nov. 10], but real reform of New York’s Rockefeller drug laws is still to come. Amendments adopted in 2004-05 left in place the harsh mandatory sentencing scheme that requires judges to lock up thousands of nonviolent offenders every year. The cost of this scheme–measured in wasted lives and wasted dollars–is astronomical. And that cost is borne overwhelmingly by African-Americans and Latinos. Justice and common sense require comprehensive reform. This will require Governor David Paterson’s leadership. He can count on the support of the NYCLU’s 48,000 members, who will mobilize statewide to overhaul the Rockefeller drug laws in 2009.

ROBERT A. PERRY, UDI OFER
New York Civil Liberties Union



Raucous Caucus: Pump Up the Volume!

Mt. Clemens, Mich.

What a relief to read John Nichols’s “The Raucous Caucus” [Nov. 10]. As the last few months of the campaign came to an end (thank God), I was disappointed by how the Iraq War became an afterthought to the media and the public. I am still sickened by the unnecessary loss of life and the billions upon billions of taxpayers’ dollars being spent to fund the invasion and occupation, money that would be put to much better use here, helping our citizens. I am also very disappointed by the lack of any real change after the midterm elections. I hope some more Democrats (Pelosi, Reid, Stabenow, Levin etc.) will follow the lead of the Raucous Caucus and get a backbone!

PAT JONES



November Surprise

High Point, N.C.

Bob Moser is sadly mistaken [“Obamalina,” Nov. 10]. North Carolina has not and will not fall for Obama. I can assure you, as a lifelong resident grounded in reality, and politically astute regarding these matters, I found his attempt to suppress the conservative turnout as transparent as his flawed and arrogantly presumptuous logic. The Obama campaign and its willing accomplice, the drive-by, antiquated liberal media, have once again underestimated the underlying and prevailing political current in North Carolina, a middle-right state that is capable of making up its own mind. So please spare us the “exalted one,” got that “tingly feeling running down my leg” garbage. We’re not buying it! Socialism will be rejected by the electorate. Come election day, North Carolina will remain a red state, once again, showing that you guys have not a clue.

JOHN CRAVEN



Divided by the Devil

Greenwood, Ark.

Kudos to Alexander Cockburn for “Against Obama” [Nov. 10]! It is nice to read insightful dissent, even (and especially) when it challenges the majority opinion of your other writers. I commend The Nation for printing it! I always read “Beat the Devil” first!

JONATHAN KEYS


East Hampton, N.Y.

I mailed my absentee ballot with a boldly marked X in the Obama column. Then came your November 10 issue and, to me, the one-two punch. After a quick perusal of the contents, I turned first to the always cogent and truthful Alexander Cockburn. I have felt a similar growing dissatisfaction with many of the pronouncements (and Congressional votes) from Obama over the course of the campaign, but a vote for Obama has seemed the only possible vote for me. Still, war in Afghanistan seems a very daunting possibility.

Then I turned back to the Letters page and read the response from “The Obama Campaign” to one of your editorials. It was staggering. Is it really from the Obama campaign? Or was it written by someone in the McCain camp, or a writer at the Onion? Has the Obama campaign really become such a prisoner of its own rhetoric that it thinks all thoughtful opposition (or support) can be smothered into nonbeing by a wash of sanctimony? If this letter is genuine I have to confess to a growing uneasiness about our new world of “change.”

FRED KOLO


Brooklyn, N.Y.

As an avid Nation subscriber who reads each issue cover to cover, I have taken to glancing at Alexander Cockburn’s column only occasionally. I read it as I do William Kristol’s in the New York Times, to get a view of an alternate reality unrelated to any I experience, and to read the word “liberal” used so derisively one would think that liberals alone have caused all the world’s troubles. But even marking on the curve I reserve only for Cockburn, his “Against Obama” is stunning. Amid the usual bashings, he asks whether there is a single reason to vote for Obama, as opposed to voting against McCain.

Perhaps he should read The Nation. Herman Schwartz recently wrote about the Supreme Court and how Obama’s potential appointments would stop the slide, and perhaps change the tide, on everything from choice, equal pay for women, access to the courts, disability rights, civil rights and civil liberties. Katha Pollitt can educate Cockburn about gender equality, and Patricia Williams about an Obama presidency and race. Ari Melber, who writes about politics and the netroots, can bring him into the twenty-first century.

Is Obama perfect? Of course not, and The Nation has been valuable in pointing out deficiencies in his healthcare plan and economic policies. But Barack Obama is the closest we will come to a progressive, charismatic, principled politician. And yes, for the first time in nearly fifty years I looked forward to voting for a candidate rather than against one.

DANIEL GREENBERG



Late Night With The Nation

Pearland, Tex.

Waking up at 2:45 am and finding the “To the Polls” [Nov. 10] issue of The Nation on my kitchen counter, I thought, I’m tired and will just leaf through it. But that didn’t happen. I started with the Crossword, had no success, and went to the Classifieds–interesting ads. I continued paging from back to front, reading each article and thinking I’d get back to bed. But I was forced to read the entire issue, as each article was more compelling than the last.

I subscribe to The Nation for my husband, a 24/7 news zealot. He loves it and nearly has a breakdown if he thinks I tossed it out. Fortunately for him I enjoy The Nation as much as he does.

Thank you for giving me a better understanding of ACORN. I only knew that ACORN worked to register voters. I researched and found that it was formed primarily to get better housing and wages for the poor and community development investment from banks and governments, and it works for better schools. I hope the media, which have accused ACORN of voter fraud, will also describe the 1,850 or so homes that were restored by it for Katrina victims.

Finally, “Noted” ends with the thought that just getting Barack Obama into the White House will not fix our problems–exactly what I’ve been trying to tell people. We need to stay in touch with our government. We must put our members of Congress on notice that if they don’t perform as we expect, they will not be re-elected.

CATHERINE NOCHELLA



Red State Blues (for Granddaddy)

Chattanooga, Tenn.

I’m a white man and I’ve had all I can stand of General George and the Republican Plan. Two times I’ve been wrong in the past eight years, so as I cast my vote I did so with fear. Barack, I pray you the man that will point the way. Granddaddy, I hope you didn’t roll over in yo grave!

DAN LAMONS, da BluesHonky